Sunday, August 24, 2008

Classical Conditioning Can Keep You Smoking

Palov was a scientist that discovered that dogs can be conditioned to salivate when they hear a bell rung because the sound had been paired with the presentation of food. The dogs learned that when they hear the bell, they would be fed. This is called classical conditioning. Habit cigarettes are the very same thing. Everything a smoker smokes a cigarette while doing something else, they can become classically conditioned to think of a cigarette every time they do this other activity because it has become paired with smoking--the next time you hear the phone ring, do you want a cigarette? Even if you just had one? Getting into your car, do you need a cigarette first? Habits can be associated with people, places, situations, times, events, objects, and emotions.
This conditioning happens because nictoine goes to a part of the brain that give extra attention to external events. So when you smoke, you are more aware of what is happening at the same time. if you do the same thing many times while smoking the brain now expects to receive nicotine when you do this activity again, every time.
Smokers often think that these habit cigarettes are the harder to give up but the opposite is true. If you smoke every time you answer the phone and this happens 5 times a day, when you quit, 5 times each day you will "crave" the cigarette, so it seems like you are thinking about cigarettes all the time, but what this means is that you get to practice not having a cigarette 5 times each day also. In a very short period of time, you brain extinguishes the connection between the phone and the cigarette. Pavlov also proved this theory too, it is called extinction.
The urge for habit cigarettes falls away within 2 to 3 weeks. When the conditioning is extinguished, most smokers will feel like a non-smoker and believe that they have beat Kid Nicotine but not all conditioning is extinguished and the smoker needs to be aware of the "out-of-the-blue" craving. Often this is a habit cigarette that is paired to an activity that you don't do very often, maybe only once or twice a year, yet your brain still remembers this connection. You need an emergency plan for when those "out-of-the-blue" craving pop up.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What would you say are the CS, UCS, UCR, and CR in this case?

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

The unconditioned stimulus (UCS) would be the cigarette leading to the unconditioned response (UCR)which would be the craving or desire to smoke (to get the release of dopamine). The conditioned stimulus (CS) would be --coffee, driving, telephone, and the conditioned response (CR) is the craving or desire to smoke. It could be argued that a cigarette is a conditioned stimulus too (when one starts smoking) because it is learned behavior and if you have never smoked, there is no unconditioned response to the sight of a cigarette--one doesn't automatically crave smoking until after you've tried it, whereas with Pavlov's experiments-salivation (UCR) to food (UCS) is inherent.
The release of dopamine is a physical reinforcement to repeat behavior, smoking becomes the CS and a second tier CS would be the coffee, telephone etc.
I hope that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

How long does it take after quitting smoking to resume normal CO levels
in the blood?
My site : why quit smoking

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

CO levels return to normal within 24 to 48 hours.

Tracy B said...

May I use this for a project for my psych. class?

Tracy B said...

may i use this for a project for my psych class?

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

Tracy B--Yes, as long as you footnote my page.

Lynda said...

Why is classical conditioning being used?
Do you think this willl be effective? Why or why not?

VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting said...

I'm sure when a person starts smoking they don't consider that their brain is being conditioned. I do believe it is important for smokers to understand this conditioning so they can use that information to be successful at quitting. I have smokers break their conditioning (habits) before they quit. This is only part of a successful program. A smoker also needs to deal with with the physical addiction and withdrawals, stress and emotional ties to smoking and many other issues too.